Elvish Socks!

Rivendell Sock
Rivendell Sock

Being crazy busy does not rule out all knitting. It just means I’m teetering on the brink of crazy. But that’s not news to my inner circle – busy or not. So I’ve still managed to finish a pair of socks and aren’t they just tooo lovely?

Rivendell - cuff
Rivendell - cuff

When The Eclectic Sole by Janel Laidman came into the shop (had to have been last spring?) I could not stop looking at it.

The Eclectic Sole by Janel Laidman
The Eclectic Sole by Janel Laidman

The cover was tantalizing, the title  a tease, and the patterns are an adventurous delight (anybody want to hire me to write Ad Copy?  😉

Published by Rustling Leaf Press, it has 96 pages of full color, very well photographed socks, techniques, color charts, and discussions of swatching , yarns, WPI (bravo Janel!), color, needles, and some basics. In the back are some photos and instructions for the cast-ons and stitches she uses in her patterns. All very clear and understandable. What I like about her book is that she did not spend a lot of her precious book pages on these things by going into a lot of detail. She used the bulk of the pages on her great patterns. So, while I would not recomend it to a brand new knitter, or maybe even a first time sock knitter, I don’t believe that is her target. Janel has found the happy medium; these are fresh, beautiful and interesting, with opportunities to learn for the sock knitter who is bored with “basic” but not as mind-bending as Cat Bordhi’s New Pathways.

Since I wear Burkies, I ribbed all the way to the tip of the toe.
Since I wear Burkies, I ribbed all the way to the tip of the toe.

Back to the socks… I sucumbed and the book followed me home. It stayed in the kennel (book shelf with all my other “pet” books) until late summer when I could not ignore it’s soft mewling anymore. I took it off the shelf and it popped open to the sock that had to be made first. I confess, as geeky as this is, I’m a Lord of the Rings fan, have been since Jr. High. The first socks from this book had to be Rivendell.

Graceful blending from the ornate rib to the leaf pattern
Graceful blending from the ornate rib to the leaf pattern

I had yarn in my stash from the sale bin in almost the same colorway as the socks in the book; a soft blend of pastels – appropriate for an Elvish design. The pattern was just challenging enough to keep me interested and excited. It would have been perfect except for the yarn. I used Maizy from Crystal Palace Yarns and I have to say, it’s not my cup o’ tea. 82% corn fiber and 18% elastic, it was too stretchy and too wimpy. I usually knit socks on a size “0” or “1” needle to get gauge but had to use a size “3” with this stuff that was like knitting with limp rubber bands. I like the finished product but it was less than ideal to knit with. I also learned, the hard way, that you do not steam socks with elastic in them – it melts! The socks are fine, undamaged and look great but if you rub your hand over the surface (outside only, thank goodness), it has a scratchy feel that the melted elastic gives it. Yes, I should have known better – I guess I was on automatic pilot when I blocked these. Oy!

The cuff again
The cuff again

For the next pair, I will return to my beloved wool sock yarn.

But which pair next, Nordic Lights or Migration? Decisions, decisions…

As always, you can see more of my favorite books, that I highly recommend, by visiting My Book Store (there is a link in the sidebar under Pages). This is an aStore or Amazon store that only lists books I choose.

Deb H

Elvish Socks!

Book Review Saturday

Does this mean that every Saturday I’ll write a book review? Ha! I should be so disciplined. It really means that I’m doing one of the many book reviews I’ve been intending (on which I am way behind) and that it just happens to be a Saturday and the book title was too long for the post title. Clear as mud?

Because I am a book junkie, a sock knitting junkie, and teach the occasional sock knitting class, I am frequently asked about my opinions of sock books. I always approach new sock knitting books with caution. Does the world really need another one, it seems there have been so many lately. But being a woman of infinite opinions, I’m always happy to share them 😉

Today’s Special;

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Knitting More Circles Around Socks: Two at a Time, Toe Up or Cuff Down ” by Antje Gillingham

If  “Knitting Circles Around Socks: Knit Two at a Time on Circular Needles” by Antje Gillingham, can be classified as SKOC (Sock Knitting on Circulars) 101, then her new book “Knitting More Circles Around Socks: Two at a Time, Toe Up or Cuff Down” would be SKOC 201.

“More” is a stand alone book that does not require you to have purchased the first book. It has all the same good basic sock information and how too start instructions as the first book; terminology, measuring for fit, gauge swatching, and a handy size chart that gives you all the needed measurements for each standard shoe size – ideal for gift knitting!

The text is littered with good, clear hand drawn illustrations for all techniques needed in this book in the Knitting Basics section. Many of the techniques are different from the first book as different techniques are used in this collection of patterns.

The Sock Basics section is new and a very good primer to read before starting your first sock pattern. Read it! Your sock knitting experience will be sweeter for it (that goes for any knitting book), and this is a fabulous addition.

The Basic Woman’s Cuff Down Sock pattern (the first pattern in the book) is the same as in her first book. Her photo illustrations of casting-on and setting up for two-at-a-time is very good and she gives lots of great tips for cast-on success.

All that is in the first 28 pages. Now, the really good stuff (more?) starts. There are three more cuff-down socks that are inventive. I love bobbles, slips are new to me but (now) on my “must try” list. The third is a basic sock for kids; wonderful as it covers infant to age 12. There are eight patterns for toe-up socks (my own personal favorite). Again, her techniques are well illustrated with photographs. Another good kid’s basic pattern is added and the following are all fresh designs and a just a wee bit more challenging than those in her first book. The information you need is all there and very understandable without being “dumbed down”.

As a fanatical two-at-a-time on one (or two) needle sock knitter for the last few years, I have to say “I’m impressed”. Job well done Antje, just don’t ask me to pronounce your name.

Deb H

Book Review Saturday

Sleep? What’s Sleep?

My poor, neglected Blog. But I have been busy!

Radisson-1

I spent all last week at Fabrications in Kalamazoo, Michigan becoming a famous fiber artist.

Art + Quilt

Well, a girl can dream! I took a five day workshop with Lyric Kinard (I have her new book in my hands as I type – tricky, that – and it’s fabulous!) learning The Elements of Art. Give me a couple of more months and I’ll knock your socks off!

But don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to knit more  😉 (socks).

If  you have been reading my Blog, you know all about the best Fiber Art Retreat in all of Michigan (and several other states). It was the best 5 days of art, fabric, wine, friends, more art, wine, excellent food, colorful fabric, music, wine…

Did I mention wine?

balance
balance

So we did really cool things to fabric and had a generally great time. We did not sleep much but I guess a week of creative exuberance is a sufficient substitute  😉

Lyric-class-1

About my class; it was pretty much based on Lyric’s new book “Art + Quilt” (pictured above). For this ol’ ducky who has had very little formal art training, it was perfect. I absorb art and art knowledge in bits and pieces and odd places; reading books and magazines, watching videos, taking workshops aimed at fiber art, hobnobbing with artists, staring at artwork of all kinds, and playing with color,  fabric and yarn.

 4 days of learning
4 days of learning

To work through exercises on texture, shape, line, color and value made it clear to me that I had the knowledge, I just couldn’t control it. I now feel like I have the gift of (at least some) control. Knowledge is power they say. This is true for artistic endeavors as well. I now have the power to know why some of my pieces are triumphs and some are, well…

dismal disasters.

value

I know my weak spot (value) and to watch for it. I know my strong point (color) and will aim to capitalize on it. Although I even learned new stuff about color and I thought I had that one nailed. I learned about unity, focal point, balance, motion, rhythm (doesn’t that word look like it needs to buy a vowel?), how the eye travels through a piece.

All good stuff!!

amphitheater-sketch

I even learned about “seeing” in daily drawing exercises. That was tough! I’m the girl who dropped out of college Drawing 101 when my art teacher would not let me use my triangles, straight edge, and scale to draw a leaf. I had a nervous breakdown! I still can’t draw but at least I will try – progress 🙂

I learned about kicking the muse in the boot, finding inspiration when it’s being illusive, storing ideas for when inspiration is coming too fast and furious.

I learned about critiquing; our work and others.

New work started
New work started

I learned about my own creative nature. And I started a new work that I’m excited to explore!

Lyric teaching us
Lyric teaching us

The workshop was soooo fabulous. And so is her book. A must have for anyone who does not have that MFA after their name.

My cup is full.

Deb H

Sleep? What’s Sleep?

Book Review – Socks From the Toe Up

I’ve been bum busting busy but I wanted to put up a book review for y’all. I’ve been meaning to review some of my favorites so here is the first! (yes, the book links to an Amazon page).

Socks From the Toe Up - Wendy Knits
Socks From the Toe Up - Wendy Knits

Socks from the Toe Up: Essential Techniques and Patterns from Wendy Knits by Wendy Johnson
sturdy paperback, 127 pages with lovely color photos – $22.95

As a dye-hard (pun intended) Toe-Up sock knitter and teacher, I am always excited to see a new sock book come out that purports my favorite sock knitting direction. I’m usually a little disappointed; the toe cast-on is not one I would use or they picked an absurd heel… you get the idea. This book is so perfect. If I were to write a sock knitting book, this would be it.

To start with, Wendy gives you six (count them 1-2-3-4-5-6) different toe cast-ons to choose from. You can do the traditional, excruciatingly fiddly figure eight toe, or choose from five other, less intimidating cast-ons that are all wonderful. The diagrams are clear and easy to understand as well.This is followed by three different heels, one is totally new to me and I can’t wait to try it. She talks about tools, techniques, measuring and gauge. Then she wedges into this marvelous book, twenty-three patterns for really lovely socks; from basic, to lace, Gansey, cabled, and even some for sport weight yarns. Ideal for the sock knitter of any level. Easy to understand for the beginner and the experienced sock knitter will learn something too. I love it!

Deb H

Book Review – Socks From the Toe Up